This is an uncommon but sometimes severe and debilitating condition that can be triggered by minor injuries such as fractures or sprains (or can even occur spontaneously). It is a difficult condition to manage and often requires the help of a team including doctors, physiotherapists and psychologists (multidisciplinary treatment). It has many features of neuropathic pain and may respond to some treatments for this type of pain. Some patients suffer from a condition which is similar to CRPS but does not strictly fit the diagnostic criteria for a CRPS type 1 or 2.

CRPS has been classified into two types:

Type 1:

  • 90% of cases are CRPS 1
  • Previously known as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Follows a minor injury or can be spontaneous

Type 2:

  • 10% of cases are CRPS 2
  • Previously known as Causalgia
  • Follows a demonstrable injury to a nerve


Signs and Symptoms

It is associated with the following signs and symptoms:

Severe pain (out of proportion to the injury):

  • Allodynia: Pain from a sensation which is not normally painful (eg. the breeze or the rubbing of clothing on the limb)
  • Hyperalgesia: Increased pain from a sensation which is normally only mildly painful (eg. a pin prick)
  • Hypersensitivity

Vasomotor changes:

  • Temperature and colour changes

Sudomotor changes:

  • Swelling (Oedema) and sweating changes

Motor or trophic changes:

  • Weakness
  • Hair or nail abnormalities

In severe cases of CRPS the changes can be so significant that the affected limb is distorted and displays severe contractures with the patient even neglecting the limb.

The diagnosis of CRPS is a clinical one. No test can be done to confirm or rule out the diagnosis.

Patients who have had CRPS and recovered are at risk to have it again, either in the same region or another.



QPain specialists are able to diagnose your pain and tailor a treatment program to suit you specifically.

This may involve:

Spinal Cord Stimulation and Dorsal Root Ganglion Stimulation are newer technologies that have shown remarkable response rates. The specialists at QPain are experts in the application of this new technology.

Often the best treatment is a combination of all of these and can be termed multimodal or multidisciplinary treatment. You may benefit from involvement in a pain management program to improve quality of life and function. QPain specialists can arrange a program for you.